While obtaining a divorce can be emotionally trying, at the very least, separating couples can look to a court system that will oversee the complicated questions, such as property division and child custody, in a fair manner. That is the expectation at least, but for some California city officials, certain family courts could use improvements, in a big way, particularly when it comes to divorce mediation.
Divorce mediation is a less adversarial approach to the separation process where a neutral mediator oversees the proceedings. The divorcing couple works together in an effort to sort out the difficult questions. Such a process encourages compromises and often leaves both parties feeling a fair outcome resulted. Yet, in Marin and Sacramento County specifically, auditors claim the mediation process was subpar.
A California State Auditor report which came out in 2011, indicated there to be numerous flaws in the way these courts used mediators in divorce cases. Specifically, the auditor report held many of the mediators to be unqualified. Such a flaw could have a huge impact on a divorce process, when the separating couple relies heavily on the mediator in order to come to an agreement.
The good news is that the Marin County court system took the report seriously and recently instituted all the suggested improvements. Now, a better checks and balances system is in place, and if a mediator is not meeting expectations, a supervisor will know immediately. Unfortunately, Sacramento County did not institute all the suggest changes, citing budgeting issues as the excuse.
A fair and well-functioning court system is crucial to the divorce process. A well-qualified mediator will serve a separating couple well.
Source: Marin Independent Journal, “Marin divorce court gets good marks in follow-up report to 2011 state audit,” Feb. 18, 2013.